AMD Snowy Owl Platform To Take Flight With EPYC 3000 Series Processors

As part of AMD's comeback tour into the high-end market sector, it released new CPU and GPU architectures, Zen and Vega respectively. And with Zen, AMD has been focused on attacking every market sector, including mainstream desktops (Ryzen 3/5/7), high-end desktops (Threadripper), mobile (Ryzen 5 Mobile, or Raven Ridge), and server (EPYC). Building upon that latter segment, AMD is readying a new Snowy Owl platform for embedded system-on-chip (SoC) applications.

Snowy Owl takes flight

Snowy Owl is the codename for Epyc 3251, an Epyc 3000 series chip that will be AMD's first Zen-based SoC. It will sit in an embedded SoC form factor with the SP4r2 BGA socket, and by the looks of things, it will be the most powerful SoC solution out there. That is not too surprising since Snowy Owl is basically a cut-down version of Naples (Eypc 7601 and so forth), which itself scales to 32 cores.

AMD Snow Owl Slide
Image Source: Videocardz)

In contrast, there will be two categories of Snowy Owl—a single-chip module (SCM) that can scale up to 8 cores and 16 threads, and a multi-chip module (MCM) that can scale up to a maximum of 16 cores and 32 threads. These will compete against Intel's Xeon-D family in the x86 space, and could steal more market share from ARM in the microserver space where some of these embedded solutions end up.

It is not clear which of the those packages the Epyc 3251 falls into, though the model number suggests it's probably SCM. AMD uses its Epyc xx51 branding for its lower end solutions, and xx01 for higher end chips. Based on that logic, an MCM version of Snowy Owl would likely be called Epyc 3301, but that is speculation.

AMD Snow Owl Slide
Image Source: Videocardz

On paper, Snowy Owl offers some distinct advantages over Xeon-D. While the max core and thread counts are the same between the two (up to 16-cores and 32 threads), Snowy Owl supports quad-channel memory, versus Xeon-D supporting dual-channel memory. AMD's embedded solution also brings more cache to the table (32MB of L3 cache, versus 24MB), and twice as many PCI Express lanes at 64 instead of 32.

The cost of those upgrades is the TDP. Snowy Owl has a 35W to 100W TPD (depending on the chip), whereas Xeon-D is lower at both ends of the spectrum with a 20W to 65W TDP.

It will be interesting to see how AMD prices Snowy Owl, which we should find out soon enough. After that, it's onto AMD's Starship platform in 2018.

Image credit: Peter K Burian Wikimedia Commons